Playoff Possibilities for the Red Hot Detroit Lions

Who would have thought? After an abysmal 1-6 start, the Detroit Lions have had an unimaginable turnaround and now have a very real chance to make the playoffs. In their last seven games, the Lions have won six of them, the only defeat coming in a close battle with the AFC leading Buffalo Bills on Thanksgiving.

With a win against the New York Jets, the Lions have put themselves in position to make their own destiny. At the start of the season, many fans would not have believed that the Lions would be playing meaningful football the in December. With three games remaining, let’s look at what it will take for the Lions to be in the playoff mix.

Officially five of the seven possible playoff spots are already set in stone. The Philadelphia Eagles, Minnesota Vikings, San Francisco 49ers and Dallas Cowboys have clinched playoff berths and one more team will take account for the NFC South. This leaves two available wildcard spots. Currently, those spots are taken by two NFC East rivals, the New York Giants and the Washington Commanders.

For these final two spots, the Seattle Seahawks (7-7), Detroit Lions (7-7) and the Green Bay Packers (6-8) all have the chance to leap frog the Commanders and Giants.

The Giants (8-5-1) have a favorable chance of making the playoffs with their Sunday Night Football win over the Commanders. Two wins would likely make them playoff locks. Only one win in the final three games could even get them in.

The Packers, while still alive, need to win out and need help from other teams. On top of that, the Packers’ final stretch is no easy feat. They will face the Miami Dolphins, Minnesota Vikings and Detroit Lions. All of these team have been competitive all season. Winning out seems very unlikely, and we will consider the Commanders and Seahawks.

The Commanders have a good possibility to lose two of their final games. They play the San Francisco 49ers (10-4), Cleveland Browns (6-8) and Dallas Cowboys (10-4). The 49ers and Cowboys have two of the strongest defenses in the NFL, and have been tough teams to beat all season. The 49ers are currently on a seven-game win streak, and may be the toughest team in the NFC. The Browns will compete, especially as quarterback Deshaun Watson gets more comfortable with the offense after his 11-game suspension.

The Seahawks have a more favorable schedule than the Commanders. They will face the Kansas City Chiefs (11-3), New York Jets (7-7), and Los Angeles Rams (4-10) in their final three games. Detroit lost to the Seahawks in Week 4, so a tie in the standings doesn’t help the Lions. They need to finish ahead of the Seahawks to surpass them in the wildcard race. The Chiefs are still fighting to be the top seed in the AFC. While they could lose Chiefs, the games against the Jets and Rams could be wins for the Seahawks. Most likely, the Lions will need to finish ahead of the Seahawks and Commanders in order to have a playoff spot. If Detroit goes 3-0 in their final three games, then the Commanders and Seahawks only need to lose once more each. If the Lions go 2-1, then both of those teams to lose twice.

The Lions travel to Carolina to play the Carolina Panthers on Saturday. Expect this game to be a hard- fought battle just like the game against the Jets. The Panthers are still in contention to win the NFC South and have plenty to play for.

After this, the Lions face the Chicago Bears at home and then travel to Green Bay for the season finale against the Packers.

Every game is a possible win on paper, and the fact that the Lions even have a possibility to make the playoffs should please every Lions’ fan. If the Lions handle business and win all three, they can be in the playoffs for the first time since 2016.
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